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Rajasthan Assembly Election 2018: A year on, Afrazul killing not a poll issue in Rajsamand

Rajasthan assembly election 2018: Afrazul Khan, a migrant worker from Bengal, was hacked and burnt to death by Shambhulal Regar, a local marble trader, in Rajsamand, about 68 km from Udaipur, on December 6 last year. Now, amid the din of elections, the issue has no resonance on the ground, possibly because Khan was an outsider.

rajasthan elections Updated: Dec 07, 2018 09:40 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Hindustan Times, Rajsamand
Rajasthan Election 2018,Rajasthan Election 2018 News,Rajasthan Constituency
Rajasthan Assembly Election 2018: The West Bengal government gave a job to the daughter of Afrazul Khan in November this year. His widow Gulbahar received the appointment order from officials.(HT File )

A year after a migrant worker from West Bengal was brutally murdered in this white marble-producing town located along the Aravalli hills in Rajasthan, people want to leave the painful memory behind and move on, as they prepared to vote in assembly elections being held on December 7.

Afrazul Khan was hacked and burnt to death by Shambhulal Regar, a local marble trader, in Rajsamand, about 68 km from Udaipur, on December 6 last year.

Regar had claimed that he killed Khan over ‘love jihad’, a term right-wing groups use to allege an Islamist strategy of converting Hindu women through seduction, marriage or money. But the Rajasthan police, in its charge sheet, said Regar’s real motive was to hide his “illicit relations” with a woman he called his “Hindu sister”.

Now, amid the din of elections, the issue has no resonance on the ground, possibly because Khan was an outsider. “No doubt, that was a painful incident and the guilty should be punished as per the law. But that incident has not cast a shadow on the relations between Hindus and Muslims who have been living in harmony here for centuries,” said Ganesh Singh, a grocery shop owner in Kankroli.

Ali Asgat, a businessman and a resident of Hauz Qazi Chowk in Dariba, Rajsamand, echoed his views. “Barring that one incident, Hindus and Muslims have lived in peace here. We have business and personal relations with each other. If we develop differences during the day, we try to sort those out by the evening,” he said.

Vote share of parties in the 2013 Rajasthan assembly elections

Both the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress have steered clear of the issue.

When Rajasthan votes on Friday, a keen contest is on the cards in Rajsamand where state minister and senior BJP leader, Kiran Maheshwari, is pitted against Congress’s Narayan Singh Bhati.

Although the perception is that intense infighting within the BJP could prove costly for Maheshwari, who is seeking re-election, the party dismissed reports of any factionalism and expressed confidence that Maheshwari would retain the seat. “There is no infighting. All our leaders and workers are solidly behind Maheshwariji. There were some issues initially but we have resolved them,” Rajsamand district BJP president, Bhanwar Lal Sharma, said.

Sharma insisted that the killing of Afrazul was not a poll issue. “There is no communal discord here. We take everybody along on our development journey.”

His Congress counterpart, Devakinandan Gurjar, agreed. “That incident does not even have 1% impact on these elections. All communities live in harmony...,” he said.

Urban vs Rural: Voting patterns in Rajasthan

Political analysts were of the view that peace has prevailed in the area despite external influences trying to cause disturbances some time ago. “In the recent past, there were some incidents which we never would have imagined but, overall, the people have resisted all such attempts and have been living in harmony for centuries now,” said educationist Rakesh Tailang. “People have almost forgotten Afrazul. That is no issue mainly because water, electricity, housing, food, roads, jobs, price rise, agrarian distress and sustainable development remain the primary issues for the common people,” he said.”

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First Published: Dec 07, 2018 09:27 IST